In the face of the novel coronavirus pandemic, people around the world are turning to their leaders for comfort and a sense of direction. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has spoken to his citizenry often — even taking time to write a response to an eight-year-old boy’s letter — and multiple European leaders have worked hard to assuage people’s concerns.

On Friday, U.S. President Donald Trump hosted a press conference for Americans and was expected to outline the country’s positioning in terms of COVID-19 testing, mask and ventilator availability and other matters.

Instead, the press conference was messy, with garbled answers and often incoherent, conflicting statements from the president, who was seemingly optimistic about the potential for therapeutic COVID-19 drugs.

At one point, NBC News reporter Peter Alexander asked Trump to speak to Americans scared by the pandemic, perhaps searching for some words of comfort.

Alexander asked Trump whether his “positive spin” regarding potential COVID-19 treatment was giving Americans a false sense of hope.

“Is it possible that your impulse to put a positive spin on things may be giving Americans a false sense of hope?” he asked.

Trump replied: “No, I don’t think so. It may work, it may not work. I feel good about. That’s all it is; it’s a feeling.”

“What do you say to Americans who are scared… millions who are scared right now?” Alexander followed up.

“I say that you’re a terrible reporter,” Trump snapped aggressively. “That’s what I say. I think that’s a very nasty question. You’re doing sensationalism.”

Alexander appeared stunned at the exchange, and the room fell into an awkward hush.

Trump immediately moved on to the next question, though, later on, levied another dig on Alexander.

“I’ve dealt with Peter for a long time,” Trump said while answering a different journalist’s question. “And I think Peter is not a good journalist.”

You can watch the back-and-forth (and more) in the video above.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials say the risk is low for Canadians but warn this could change quickly. They caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are asked to self-isolate for 14 days in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. And if you get sick, stay at home.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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